April 21, 2021

Juno Musical at Timeline

Being a history buff, I couldn’t believe that I had never attended a Timeline production with their mission being theatricalized historic events. If you like Irish music, Irish history, the plays of Sean O’Casey or wonderfully intimate, well-acted and sung productions, do yourself a favor and snag a ticket for “Juno” before its July 27 closing.

Adapted from the O’Casey play “Juno and the Paycock” about a family’s travails during the Irish War of Independence in the 1920’s, the revered Marc Blitzstein/Joseph Stein chamber musical wasn’t really meant to go up against Broadway competitors such as “My Fair Lady” and “Bye Bye Birdie.” If the musical had been completely sung, “Juno” might have had an easier time on the opera circuit.

Nick Bowling, the director and John Culbert, the set designer put the audience in the midst of a Dublin street, at a neighborhood pub or smelling the cooking of sausage in the Boyle kitchen. The staging is such that scenes meld seamlessly and energetically from one to the next. Un-amplified singing voices are skillfully accompanied by five musicians off to the side.

The three Equity actors in the cast Ron Rains, Marya Grandy and Emily Glick shine as mother, father and daughter in the Boyle household. Other stand-outs are opportunistic pal “Doxer” played by James Houton, Jordan Brown as “Jerry Devine” and Peter Oyloe as the heart-breaking lawyer “Charlie Bentham.“

The Marc Blitzstein score has always been a favorite with music theater aficionados but rarely staged these days so we thank Timeline for an opportunity to re-examine a work that was considered a flop on Broadway but thoroughly engages current day audiences with its illumination of how a particularly difficult time in history impacts a family. And to be sure, this won’t be the last production I see at Timeline Theatre Company.


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